The 1946 "Bubbler" Classic Wurlitzer Jukebox

1946 Wurlitzer Jukebox 1015 Playing Your Feet's Too Big!

Be-Boppers & Bobbi-Sockers

Alright, slick hep cats and daddy-O's...Its time for a little "Soda Fountain of Youth." Let's pay tribute one of the most important pieces of America nostalgia. Face it greasers, no one could twist and shout at the diner without jukebox music. And in all of jukebox history there is only one king, "the Bubbler," the Wurlitzer Model 1015.

So let's give proper homage to those soda shop memories, the days of hot rods, sweater girls and poodle skirts. While the sounds from the latest wax stacks swam from the warm glowing neon columns that produced a rainbow of dazzling colors. Dancing the jitter-bug, in your saddle shoes while those famous Wurlitzer bubbles were percolating; producing a hypnotic effect. The original 1946 Wurlitzer Model 1015 offered pleasure for the eyes and the ears. In a time when you would split a chocolate malt on a Saturday night with your best girl and stare endlessly into each other's eyes.

So let's travel back to a time of black and white checker-board tile floors, lettermen sweaters, and plugging a nickel into the Wurlitzer, so you could slow dance with your steady...just so you could whisper sweet nothings into each other's ears.

There's a bit of an American romance when it comes to the Wurlitzer Bubbler. Something about these particular jukeboxes that make them a treasure, and to this day the classic Wurlitzer is a much prized collector's item. Pure magic from a time gone by.

The "1015- Bubbler"

In 1946, after the end of World War II, Wurlitzer introduced it's Model 1015 Jukebox. Building supplies had become available again, and it was the "1015- Bubbler" that brought the near- bankrupt Wurlitzer Company great success. Finally, allowing the Wurlitzer company it to rebound from near financial ruin brought on by the Depression. The 1015 sky-rocketed Wurlitzer forward as the leader of jukebox manufacturing, with over 56,000 units being sold in less than 2 years. This was a Golden Age for jukebox production, and leading the charge was the goregous "Bubbler." Not only was the 1015 a huge hit in the United States, but the this warm glowing jukebox seemed to appeared everywhere Americans went. The 1015 even followed American GIs all over the globe.

The “1015-Bubbler”, is without a doubt the most popular jukebox of all time. It was the famous designer Paul Fuller (who was chief designer with the Wurlitzer Company from 1935-1948) who got the green light for the concept of the 1015. At the time many of 1940’s jukeboxe's designs had more of “gothic” or a “cathedral” inspired look. But the new Wurlitzer actually was influenced from more of an art deco style, with its illuminated, color-changing pillars, 8 bubble tubes, shiny chrome and domed top. The design reflected the new uplifted, positive attitude of a post-war America. The coin-operated "Bubbler" played 78-RPM records and new multi-selector technology. Which allowed more than one record at a time to be  selected records and played by a push of a button.

Even though the Wurlitzer Model 1015 was produced from 1946 to 1947, it was the popularity of this jukebox model that kept many of them still bopping along right into the 50’s. It's this longevity, that is responsible for the "Bubbler" being associated with the romanticized 1950’s sock-hop era. 45-RPM records were becoming so popular that by 1954 the Wurlitzer factory had to introduce a conversion kit for the 1015- Bubbler, just so they could play 45s.

The Wurlitzer 1015 has been such a legendary model of jukebox. That in 1986 to celebrate the 40th anniversary, Wurlitzer manufactured the 1015 in a special edition called,“One More Time”. It still had the classic design of the "Bubbler," but the company also equipped it with the ability to play CDs.

The Wurlitzer 1015 has made many guest appearences in television shows and in the movies. If you look closely you can see a 1015- Bubbler in the background shots of  “Cheers”, “Friends”, “Back to the Future” and “On the Waterfront” just to name a few examples.

Wurlitzer "Bubbler" Jukebox

Recent Years

Wurlitzer has celebrated over 150 years of pioneering, and is credited for popularizing the jukebox. So much so, that the Wurlitzer name has quickly become synonymous for jukebox, with thanks to Paul Fuller and the creation of the Model 1015. Wurlitzer is now owned by Gibson Guitar Corporation.

In more recent years, interest in jukeboxes has grown. The look of the nostalgic Wurlitzer Jukebox has become a treasured symbol of the "good old days." Vintage Wurlitzer Jukeboxes have become prized and much sought after collector's items. The Wurlitzer renaissnce started in 1985, when the company introduced new jukeboxes which used the latest available in solid state technology. Of course, in 1989 Wurlitzer introduced their compact disc jukebox.

Among the latest jukebox designs from Wurlitzer are the "1015 One More Time" CD Jukebox, the Princess CD Jukebox, the Elvis Presley Limited Edition CD Jukebox, and the Johnny One Note CD Jukebox. The One More Time is a nostalgic reproduction of the original Model 1015 that has been updated with state-of-the-art digital technology. The Rainbow has fast become a favorite among commercial operators with its outstanding features and powerful sound. Wurlitzer is also recognized worldwide as a premier manufacturer of vending machines, having introduced some of the industry's biggest advances.

But nothing will ever compare to the warm glow of the tubes, and the sound quality of the stacks of vinyl. With all the popping, scraping and depth that flat modern digital can not reproduce. Many of us, will never know that sense of wonder, that comes with seeing and listening to a Wurlitzer Model 1015, "the Bubbler."

Wurlitzer 1015 Playing, "The Great Pretender"

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Comments 18 comments

BrianS profile image

BrianS 7 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

Brilliant piece of equipment, really brings the American rock and roll era to mind.


BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 7 years ago from Bristol

Good hub even if the subject was a bit before my time!


jjrubio 7 years ago

I love this stuff! This was a great hub and fantastic nostalgia!


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

Brian... Even to this day thoughts of pure American rock-n-roll, hot rods, and good times come to mind, when looking at one of these beauties.

Bristol Boy... I feel ya. I'm not that old, but this bit of nostalgia is burned into the hearts and minds of many who appreciate that particular era.

JJ... I knew this would be something you would dig. I, like you, love all things in that retro vibe. Rockabilly, Classic pin-ups, and anything that has that 40s and 50s feel.


jjrubio 7 years ago

thanks! I do love it all!=)


G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

Good job my dear...I just wasn't aware of all this...just picked my songs and danced and shared those shakes too...I loved the ones in bars it was really fun...also remember?? the ones at the cafe's that you turned the pages on to choose your music...they were at each table??? Fun days...Nice reminder too..OMG...Thanks G-Ma :O) Hugs & Peace


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

when I'm rich, you know what I'm getting


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

I remember a few diners that still had the table-top jukeboxes at every table. Funny but at one time at the soda shop, you could call the guy behind the counter a jerk and he wouldn't get mad. He would smile and make you a chocolate malt.


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

Toad,

An old Wurlitzer would be an amazing addition to a pool table and a Cigar Store Indian. I hope to hit the jackpot in Vegas one day.


Amy G 7 years ago

Nice hub! I love a jukebox. What I can't stand is when a business has one, and bastardizes it with tracks from the latest celebrity trainwrecks. I want one that's loaded with nuttin but classic love! Very cool hub.


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

Amy G.

I know 'zactly what you are saying and agree. When it comes to vintage or classic... I'm a bit of a purest.


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

We have the jukebox that is featured in the credits of "Happy Days". Not as dramatic as the bubbler, but authentic and loaded with the original 45s. We fixed our playroom up like a 50s diner because of it. We even bought an old booth! I love these things!!!!!


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

Proud Mom... the Rockola jukebox is soo cool. That's quite a treasure hep-kitten.


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

:-))


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

I spent many a nickel on those old jukeboxes, St.James, and a few quarters later on -- mostly on Bing Crosby records. From Thanksgiving to New Year's Bing was heard almost continuously. But those boxes also played the great music of the Ink Spots, the Mills Brothers, Perry Como, Don Cornell, Frankie Lane, Billy Eckstine, Rosemary Clooney. "Your Feets Too Big" is great, but during WW II Vera Lynn's "White Cliffs of Dover" really captured the heart of America on the jukebox. Here it is on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkZLkF_eJoo


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

Thank you William!

You pointed out some of my favorite Wurlitzer music standards. Thank you for the you tube clip, also. It means a lot to me.


Ed Liss 6 years ago

I've been restoring & collecting jukeboxes for 35 years. My first love was a W1015 and when I was 3 years old I wouls stand on a chair and watch the "works" perform its magic. I have owned my 1015 for 35 years now and it is loaded with vintage 78rpm rock 'n' roll records which are very rare.

The 1015 is the greatest of the greats! Never get tired of looking at it or playing it. A beautiful piece of American history.


mad valve 5 years ago

A blueprint of this device??

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